Re-Baptized Through Liberation

MVSA social media re-post from Mark Van Steenwyk, executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination (November 20, 2017):

Any anabaptist theology that isn’t re-baptized through liberation theology reinforces oppression.

Anabaptism, on its own, only makes sense as a religion of the oppressed. Just like the Gospels are unintelligible to the middle and owner classes apart from the experiences of the oppressed.

In other words: Any calls for pacifism, meekness, and simplicity that come insistently from the powerful are attempts to keep the oppressed docile and poor.

Nonviolence must be a tool of the oppressed in their struggle, with the aid and support of repentant allies. Otherwise, in the hands of the powerful it becomes an ideology of oppression.

To be clear: I’m a pacifist. But pacifism and nonviolence must be in service to liberation or they become a force for oppression. If you’re a pacifist that isn’t working alongside (and following the lead of) those who struggle for liberation, then your nonviolence is just the velvet pouch sheathing the hammer of oppression

The Politics of Christmas in the Age of Trump

Republican Presidential Candidates Speak At Values Voter SummitBy Will O’Brien

Among the many manifestations of his project to “make America great again,” President Trump has frequently and pompously declared that “We will be able to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” When he spoke at last fall’s Values Voters Summit, this vow garnered the most boisterous applause. For many conservative Christians, Trump is the conquering hero who waged battle against secularism in the annual “war on Christmas” – and finally won the war. Like many Trumpisms, this would be simply pathetic were it not for the fact that it is part of a treacherous national vision. Continue reading

Radical Recommendations for Gift-Giving

BWK (1)

Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and his recent releases

Because Christmas has become so central to the American economy and American consumption is so central to global capitalism, this festival of ‘Holy Days’ has become a central expression and embodiment of American imperial domination, an imperial religion. 
Richard Horsley, Religion and Empire (2003)

Truly, this Season signals a major tension for North American radical disciples.  We resist and reclaim.  Whether it is our love language our not, we give.  But some forms of giving are far more redemptive than others.

It is in this Spirit that we offer gift ideas from more out-of-the-way, up-and-coming, long-suffering and open-hearted thinkers and artists.  Links to their work are provided here and will eventually be added to our now-pemanent “STORE” tab up top.  We hope this list is an Advent-instigator: please add your recommendations to the comments below or email us so we can add them to the store!!!

From the Poor People’s Campaign, coming to a watershed near you in 2018:

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A beautiful 2016 publication from Philly-based pastor-parent-activist about using the difficult and challenging parts of life as a way to deepen your spiritual path and become more authentic.
The Soul-Making Room by Dee Dee Risher
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There are two new releases from this Detroit-based pastor-activist who has been hauling the sanctuary on to the streets since the early 70’s.
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From the dry creek-beds of Southern California comes this deep collection of young practitioners experimenting with place-based radicalism…
And a older-yet-timely offering…
….and yet another teaming up with a SoCal-based pastor.
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Truly, it is a time of exile for those of us on the left.  Let’s set the clock back to the early Bush years with this re-examination of the Exodus from a Vancouver-based pastor-activist.
And More from Dykstra:
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From two U.S.-based Filipinas displaying a celebration of the beauty, richness, and diversity of indigenous ways.
Back from the Crocodile’s Belly by Lily Mendoza and Leny Mendoza Strobel
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This one takes Jesus out of the over-spiritualized heart and over-futurized heaven and places him right where he was in the Gospels: the street!
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From the foot of Tiger Mountain in Washington State comes a vital perspective on early church history (aka, “the roots of why Christians want to make America great again.”).
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And lest we think gift-giving is only for adults, the executive director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination in Minneapolis tells this St. Francis-inspired tale for our young ones.
A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyk
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This year, Charlottesville exposed us all to some of the most vicious forms of American white supremacy.  But far less known, C’Ville is home to some radical experimentation, including sweet sounds from a young singer-songwriter.  Perfect for people defined by death-and-resurrection.
Claire Hitchins, These Bodies
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And this!  From a Minneapolis-based artist and PhD candidate releasing her first album, a powerfully rich blend bursting with beauty, grief, creativity and prophetic wisdom.
Katherine Parent, The Wait for Green
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Probably the most unique musical contribution of the movement is from Philly-based Holy Fool Arts, a voice of and for the wilderness that combines poetry, theatrical masks, ancient rhythms, traditional and modern dance forms, with a heavy side of the blues.
Beast, Groan
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And for those who prefer dance as their desired form of resistance: this Detroit-based DJ dubs in Rev. Barber to raise the roof off the White House.
Peter Croce, Revival
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For much of our own graphic inspiration RadicalDiscipleship.net heads north to Duluth to be captivated by beauty and truth on paper.
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Lastly, a recommendation from author-activist Wes Howard-Brook fair-trade, organic chocolate from Mama Ganache.  From WHB:

They are THE BEST! As we all know, corporate chocolate production is  both a human and environmental horror show. The folks at MG use their profits to support farmers in West Africa in many ways, as explained on their website. I’ve been ordering from them for years!

 

sheep and goats, meat and drink

Valerie Jean

PC: Valerie Jean (Detroit, MI)

by jim perkinson (St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, 11-26-17)

the sheep and the goats
the goats and the sheep
the left
the right
the day
the night

nothing here about church
but the good fundies all say
you must believe with your heart
have the word on your lips
insist jesus is lord
or you will have no part Continue reading

Peace On Earth and the Politics of Christmas

CrossThe Alternative Seminary will be un-domesticating biblical tales of liberation for all radical disciples in the Philly area next weekend:

Saturday morning, December 9
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Project HOME, 1515 Fairmount Avenue

 

Part of President Trump’s vision of “making American great again” is that – to hell with political correctness – we will all be able to say “Merry Christmas!” again.

This is deeply ironic but sadly telling:  Much of the Christian church in the United States has been co-opted by an American gospel of prosperity, racism, violence, and militant nationalism.  The celebration of Christmas is often wrapped in innocent, feel-good, Hallmark-card imagery. But in fact the biblical texts describing the coming of Jesus are making powerful assertions about the politics of the Bible that speak very much to our contemporary global crises.  We will reflect on the “nativity narratives” in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke to see how they express core biblical themes of justice and liberation.  We will try to “un-domesticate” these tales of liberation and reflect on how they are truly challenging us in terms of our allegiance and our discipleship.  A perfect event for Advent.  A light breakfast will be served.  A $5 donation is requested to cover costs.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Will O’Brien at (215) 842-1790 or wobrien@alternativeseminary.net by December 3.

The Alternative Seminary is a program of biblical and theological study and reflection designed to foster an authentic biblical witness in the modern world.  For more information, see www.alternativeseminary.net.

Love & Drugs

By Dave Pritchett, Wilderness Way Community (Portland, OR)

Addiction and Systems of Isolation

Every morning I walk into the addiction medicine center where I work, and scan the crowd attempting admission. Every morning, the faces of people hoping for treatment mimic the national trend of opiate addiction–overwhelmingly white, young men, in their 20’s and 30’s. While it is true that people struggling with mental health as well as people living in rural settings are statistically more susceptible to opioid pill addiction, heroin users tend to be urban men in their 20’s.

Because of this, my role in addiction medicine often feels similar to the men’s work I do. Continue reading

What the Tears Falling to the Ground Might Yet Fertilize

BayoBy Tommy Airey

Earlier this month, I started Bayo Akomolafe’s recently-released These Wilds Beyond Our Fences seeking spiritual solidarity.  Like most, my soul has been squeezed by concentric circles of cacophony. Climate catastrophe rages (globally) while a major political party (led almost exclusively by white men) denies it all and “successfully” utilizes weapons of voter suppression, legalized bribery, gerrymandering and Russian collusion to take full reigns of power (nationally and state-wide). Meanwhile, water shutoffs and home foreclosures pelt a city cloaked by leaders calling it a “comeback” (locally).

These rings of austerity and white supremacy have formed the ice rink of an epic institutional collapse. Families, faith communities, foundations, the “free” market and finance—these fail to offer compelling solutions for any of it. Instead, they drive the Zamboni. These are maddening times and no one, it seems, is really sure what to do about it.  Confusion reigns. Continue reading